Continuing our build up for this years Record Store Day our friend David West from Art Is Hard Records took some time out to chat to his local store in Devon and bring us todays first preview.

If I had a pound for every time I read an article about the South West that started "Many people seem to think the South West/UK ends at Bristol, but...." I'd be too busy rolling in pound coins to bother writing an article about what South West record shops are up to this record day. Silly annoyances aside, the region has plenty of record shops taking part this year, giving those that don't live in one of the country’s biggest cities a chance to get involved.

Although the region is home to many excellent record shops, the one I will be spending April 21st in is Drift Records in Devon. It's situated in the rural town of Totnes - widely known for its bohemian community of artists and musicians but less so for one of the country’s finest record shops (I'm allowed to say this, I've been to it a lot!). The shop has laid on plenty of exclusives for the day including handmade mixtapes for the first 40 through the door, limited edition screen prints and a live in-store from Bristol's The Liftmen - a band who sound like Fugazi covering the Beach Boys. As if this wasn't enough, Drift also recently moved into a larger premises just in time for this year’s event, so I decided to speak to owner Rupert to find out a bit more about the shop and what Record Store Day means to him.

Tell us a bit about Drift....How long have you been going and what made you want to open a record shop?

The shop has been running in one form or another since 1994, The Morrison family have been running it for just shy of ten years. I was running the label (Drift Records) and we decided to rebrand the shop and combine the efforts about six years back. We haven't put out any records on the Drift imprint for a good while, but the shop has been growing and growing selling all the wonderful noises we hear.

I think the one problem I found with the label side of things was managing such a small roster amongst all the music that is available. Running the shop gives you opportunity to get behind such a diverse collection, you feel like you're involved with all these amazing projects in some small part. I am and have always been obsessed with Record Shops, I even wrote a newspaper about it recently and I'll have the last handful of them in the Drift shop on Record Store Day.

What does Record Store Day mean to you, as a music fan and as a shop owner?

Record Store Day for me is a funny one. The guys who set it up are just brilliant and enthusing people. Guys like Spencer at Rough Trade who works so hard on it over here (UK) are brilliant and deserve much praise, and also all the record buying people who venture out - I love you… but I think I struggle a little bit with the influx from the major labels and the once a year buyers. It feels like they see it as a marketing opportunity and they are starting to flood the market, when it should be a celebration of indie stores, and predominantly (in my opinion) indie labels and artists. I know one of label was going to put together a bumper sticker that read "a record shop is for life not just for record store day."

I think it would be churlish to start criticising people for only coming out one day a year, but it does feel like for all the amazing publicity and awareness (and good will!) - people seem to have a short memory span and could be going to these wonderful shops and buying amazing music on any given day.

Drift is due to move in to a bigger shop in time for this year’s RSD, pretty much the opposite to how all other record shops are currently operating. How has this come about?

We've just been refining what we're doing in a shop the size of a cupboard. We hit the ceiling so it was a necessary move and it doesn't feel like much of a gamble. All the staff give or take know every record in there, they all buy records, they all listen to records… they are record people and I've bored them to tears with the fact that we're lucky to be doing it for a job, so be f**king thrilled to be there every shift and tell all the customers about an album they'll love! That's pretty much the secret I guess, care about what you're doing and people can tell. I sold a Townes Van Zandt CD to a kid the other day, he came back in and bought another couple, he's asking about Lee Hazlewood now… we're part of his journey to discovering important works of art, life changing things… that’s a real buzz. We're important in some small way?

What are the best and worst things about owning and running a record shop?

It's a great deal, we love doing it. Particularly in the new shop there is so much space to hang out and it's a really positive space to meet people and play records. I'm really focused on getting people in and keeping them there long enough to hear something that they'll love… it's how I remember record buying when I was growing up.

Boring financial stuff gets in the way and it's just heartbreaking to see excellent shops closing down… but I guess that is the way it is. You have to have your game face on every single day and make sure that people want to come and shop with you. Would you hang out there if you didn't own it? Get that right and you're okay.

Is there anything you secretly plan on holding back for yourself...or wish you could?

I'm pretty tough on all the guys that work in the shop about having to be 'a customer' on RSD, so it'd be pretty crumby if I kept anything aside for myself! I bought the Pavement 7" a couple of years ago at face value, and it'd been on the racks for a good hour.. that seemed fair. I'm adding; Velvet Underground, Babe Terror, Jonathan Wilson, Moon Duo, Lee Hazlewood and Medicine to my shopping list… I'll make sure they hit the shelves for at least an hour before they hit my shopping bag.. that seems fair no?

We've got some amazing surprises lined up also from Finders Keepers (who we're thrilled to have with us for the day) and also got one amazing Blue Note catalogue, All of the Smiths LP's on Vinyl, LOADS of Third Man Records 7"s and our annual "Finds from the Warehouse" extravaganza. It'll be a big day for record shopping.


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Although I tend to agree with the sentiment that Record Store Day should focus more on independent artists and labels (I would say that as a DIY label owner) I think it's great that there's an event that encourages people to think about the value of music and the beauty and worth of a physical product...even if it is an overpriced 12" of Lady Gaga remixes.

If you are one of those unfortunate people who won't be able to make it to Totnes this year, then the region has plenty of other beacons of independent music. Square Records (Wimbourne), Acorn Music (Yeovil), Phoenix Sound (Newton Abbot) and Jam Records (Falmouth) and many more across the South West all have special days planned; some of them even had customers queuing at 9.30 the night beforehand last year. Solid proof if any was needed that the South West/UK definitely does not stop at Bristol.


For more information on Record Store Day head to www.recordstoreday.co.uk/